learn together


OnBoard is an online platform where community members learn with each other. While various studies have shown formative assessment and immediate feedback play a key role in learning, it remains challenging to make the students’ learning experience individualized. OnBoard combines the good sides of traditional classrooms and MOOCs, where students can have guided instruction, constructive feedback, and wide access to learning resources at the same time. OnBoard is designed to alleviate the situation by promoting collaborative learning among community members.


Important concepts:

  • class – a basic unit in OnBoard community, which could mirror a real physical class at ETH or a self-organized study group
  • learning resources – files uploaded or websites tagged by users
  • points – contribution to the community in general

Ways to earn points:

  • Share notes/solutions to the class
  • Ask a good question, i.e. a question that is upvoted by a lot of people
  • Answer others’ questions
  • Recommend good learning resources to others, for example, a great textbook or a website

Crucial features for easy collaboration and vibrant community:

  • All posted questions will be stored with association with the context. For example, if someone has a question in line 16 of the script on page 30, a pop-up window will first show a list of questions on the same or nearby positions. Learners can see potential duplicated questions more easily. Others can answer questions with direct reference as well.
  • “Points” reflects a member’s reputation in the community and will influence the access privilege to the resources, the process time for questions, etc. More mechanisms can be introduced by studying second-order problems.
  • Connect like-minded learners according to their used learning resources. We know there are different types of learners. Some are better at reading a text. Some are better at interpreting graphics. By connecting learners of similar types, we boost meaning collaboration and reduce communication noise.

Crucial features for learning in general:

  • Extract all the concepts in the text and display their definitions on screen. This saves extra time for going to Google/Wikipedia.
  • Track and show learning progress, including time spent on each section, and potentially scores in quizzes/exams.

Although the first version of OnBoard is intended to target at traditional classrooms and flipped classrooms, it should work without such restrictions as well.


Hi, I’m Shengyu. Feel free to write me an e-mail for any comments or potential cooperation. We can further meet offline or have a phone call if you would like to support OnBoard in any form. huangsh@student.ethz.ch